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i4.0 ERDi TestLab Welcomes METS Ignited and NERA as Foundation Partners

Published 28/2/2020

In this story:

  • METS Ignited and NERA back the ERDi TestLab – Foundation Partner Sponsors
  • Perth city TestLab site selected
  • Lab services being launched in 2020
  • World First! I4.0 interoperability standards implemented into mining operations
  • Lab assessed by Independent i4.0 Expert Panel
  • First major industry sponsored project kicking off at ERDi TestLab

METS Ignited and NERA – ERDi i4.0 TestLab Foundation Sponsors

We are excited to announce that both METS Ignited and NERA are foundation sponsors of the UWA ERDi i4.0 TestLab.

Recognising the need and benefits of a TestLab dedicated to the advancement of i4.0 interoperable process automation technologies, two of the Australian Government’s Industry Growth Centres, METS Ignited and NERA, have both committed to supporting I.40 enablement by throwing their support behind and becoming foundation sponsors of the UWA i4.0 ERDi TestLab.

“Having both METS Ignited and NERA support the ERDi i4.0 TestLab as foundation sponsors is very exciting for us and will play a critical role in its promotion to both industry and technology vendors. NERA and METS Ignited have large networks both in Australia and internationally that will now benefit from visibility and opportunities with respect to how they can achieve outcomes in mining and energy, that align with industry 4.0” said Mr John Kirkman, Managing Director at Enterprise Transformation Partners and ERDi TestLab founder and operator.

Perth city TestLab site selected

The UWA i4.0 ERDi TestLab has now secured a central CBD location in the Perth, taking up residence and conveniently located on the ground floor of 191 St Georges Terrace and is aiming to be operating directly from this location in early April 2020.

UWA i4.0 ERDi TestLab Conceptual Designs

Figure 1 - UWA i4.0 ERDi TestLab Conceptual Designs

The METS Ignited and NERA teams will also have staff working from the Lab, enabling their networks to get involved directly with Lab activities.

The Australian energy and resources sector are fortunate to have a group of globally recognised experts in a core component of i4.0 – interoperability standards, working locally in Western Australia.

From the outset (2013), interoperability standards have been referenced as a core aspect of the i4.0 RAMI reference architecture as they enable many and various technology components that would make up an i4.0 architecture to work together seamlessly, as such enabling cross process and system automation and optimisation.

The i4.0 RAMI architecture references a number of standards and one in particular opens up significant opportunity for mining – IEC 62246/ISA-95.

Figure 2 - RAMI Reference Architecture (Source – ZVIE)

From a mining perspective, there is significant value (increased throughput, reduced unit costs, longer life assets, reduced ore loss and dilution, lower environmental impacts per unit mined) that can be unlocked when the core software packages used across geology, drill and blast, planning and scheduling, fleet management, process control and materials tracking are interoperable, as these are the core systems that are used to optimally plan and operate our mines.

Further compliant architectures enable other i4.0 technologies such as AI and Digital Twins to be easily implemented within the business where they will add the most value, rather than just for “after that fact” business improvement analytics, which is typical of the approach implemented today.

Lab services being launched in 2020

It has certainly been a busy period, particularly in the last six months for Enterprise Transformation Partners (ETP), who in conjunction with UWA, have been charged with establishing and managing the UWA ERDi i4.0 TestLab.

Brief i4.0 interoperability in mining timeline

Figure 3 - Brief i4.0 interoperability in mining timeline

The team has been working tirelessly to establish the TestLab and commence operations, offering multiple services relevant to advances in process automation, all whilst contributing to reviewing, testing and updating version 7.0 of ISA-95 implementation schemas - B2MML.

These message schemas include the latest updates made to the ISA-95 standard over several years which include a number of improvements many of which are summarised in this article written by ETPs Bill Poole in 2017 https://www.isa.org/intech/20170205/).  These improvements are beneficial for traditional manufacturing as well enabling its use more broadly in mining and energy sectors.

Lab assessed by Independent i4.0 Expert Panel

Last week the ERDi TestLab was assessed by an independent i4.0 expert panel established by the National I4.0 TestLab Network and was recognised for its expertise in i4.0 interoperability standards and implementations.

I4.0 interoperability standards implemented into mining operations

In a world first and just a taste of things to come, ETP has already worked with several mining software vendors and a mining client to architect and successfully implement an i4.0 aligned architecture utilising B2MML v7.0 into a production mine, rail and port operation.  

This is a very exciting achievement and is the first large scale implementation of a B2MML v7.0 based, modular interoperable architecture across any industry globally. The project is expected to be completed by the end of April 2020.

In the coming months, ETP will be sharing case studies from this specific project with ERDi TestLab Industry partners and will delve into the some of the ground-breaking approaches utilised, outlining the resulting associated operational and cost benefits.

Furthermore, ETP has also commenced executing a similar project in an underground operation in Western Australia and is also defining an i4.0 aligned architecture for a large scale iron ore operation, also located in WA.

First major industry sponsored project kicking off

The first major Industry led project in the UWA ERDi i4.0 TestLab will be kicking off in April 2020, involving numerous industry partners and technology vendors, executing four major Proof of Concepts (POCs) over the next 12 months.

The project (AMIRA P1208), aims to demonstrate that existing interoperability standards can be implemented into existing software packages used in mining today, as well as demonstrate benefits associated with cross functional/process/system automation. 

“2020 is a very exciting time for the mining and energy sectors as “operations management process automation” leveraging i4.0 interoperability standards is now a reality. Early adopters will reap benefits not achievable via historical and alternate approaches to process and technology architectures. I encourage any company seeking to drive operational improvements via technology to get in contact with the ERDi TestLab team to understand how they can leverage the services and expertise of the TestLab team” said Mr Kirkman. 

Contact

The ERDi TestLab will be launching various other services in Q2 2020 aimed at enabling both industry and technology providers alike to advance their i4.0 capabilities.  Keep an eye out for further announcements over the next few months and feel free to contact us for any immediate enquiries at info@erditestlab.com